To increase engagement with users, Askme had created several community websites focused across verticals such as Fashion, Weddings, Home Interiors, Education,Travel and so on. They were built on Joomla. Over time, Askme realized that the websites were not easy for their team to work with as they found it challenging to add content easily. Also the sites’ structure did not allow for scalability or the ability to handle growing traffic.
Most importantly, the core purpose of the community websites, that of engagement, was severely lacking in the sites. There were no features that enabled easy sharing of content, or created a feel of a community.
Askme’s community team decided to build the communities from scratch, so that they could have a robust and flexible platform that enabled scalability as well as engagement. Askme approached Srijan to seek their inputs in solving these issues. Srijan demonstrated to Askme that building the websites on Drupal would address all their issues easily. Askme decided to rebuild the websites in Drupal and contracted Srijan for building eight community websites.
The designs were done by Srijan’s partners Design for Use, and Screenroot. The theming and development was handled by Srijan.
The approach was to build a base platform with all the common features(events,discussion forums,contests,gamification etc) that would be used across all the eight communities as plug n play thus reducing the cost and effort. So it was agreed that Srijan’s development team would first develop these features and then reuse them with each website. Each website would be then built with its unique features.
Srijan developed the sites using Drupal 7 . Here are some of the key features built:
- Single sign-on: All the sites have different domains. But to simplify user experience, it was decided that a user in one community website should not have to register and sign in at the other community websites. Once a user registers or signs in at any one AskMe community website, he should automatically be part of the other sites as well. A single sign-on system was implemented for this by Srijan.
- Points system: One of the key engagement features in the websites is the point system, which encourages a user to collect points depending on their activity on the website. The more they engage with the content, participate in forums and contests, the more points they collect. These points can then be redeemed at Askme’s marketplace which has many online shopping partners. Again, these points were to be made accessible to a user at all the websites.
- Sharing & Notifications: The websites ensure that content is easy to share on popular social networks such as Facebook, G+ and Twitter. This was missing in the earlier Joomla version of the websites.
- Integrations with partner portals: One of the key revenue generators for AskMe is the partnership with tier-1 e-commerce companies. The websites have a shopping link that pulls up the relevant listings from partner websites as well as those from askme.com. In the earlier version of the websites too, this was done through iFrames, in which Askme could not show the products in their own web layouts. In Drupal, Askme can now have the products showcased as part of their web pages. Relevant deals are also pulled from askme.com listings.
In six months, Srijan completed five community websites, and is on track to complete the remaining websites as per schedule.
- Askme now has community websites that offer flexibility, scalability and features that drive community engagement.
- Quick development: Srijan first developed the common features and then built each of the websites. This streamlined the process and enable reuse of features.
- Flexibility because of Drupal: Since Drupal allows creation of various content types, Askme gets a lot of flexibility in how content can be categorized and shown on the websites.
- Engagement features: With this development, the AskMe community websites have true engagement features that is critical for Askme. Social networking platforms are integrated, online events and contests can be run, and a point system is being maintained for each user thereby encouraging user activity on the website.
- Ease of use: The Askme team finds the Drupal backend far easier to use while uploading content. With Joomla, it was a hugely challenging exercise that was time consuming.